Saturday, February 23, 2013
An On-Going Debate about Islam
Fw: An On-Going Debate about Islam: Part I Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:31 am (PST) . Posted by: "Yaacov Levi" jlevi_us An On-Going Debate about Islam: Part I Prof. Paul Eidelberg Below is a slightly condensed version of a July/August 2010 interview of Daniel Pipes on Islam. Dr. Pipes’ basic position on Islam has not changed to the present day. Hence, a response is in order and is scheduled to appear soon in Part II. Elwood McQuaid Israel My Glory Magazine July/August 2010 EDITOR'S NOTE: Our executive editor, Elwood McQuaid, spoke recently with Daniel Pipes, founder and director of the Middle East Forum and one of the world's leading experts on Islam and related issues. We are privileged to print edited excerpts from that interview. Elwood McQuaid: Dr. Pipes, it seems the United States and Europe are resigned to Iran developing nuclear weapons. Should we be concerned about this? And what should be done about it? DP: If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, it changes the dynamics - not just in the Middle East, but worldwide. If the Obama administration has in mind to do something, it's not about to broadcast it. So we don't know. But I'm not optimistic…. EMQ: Can sanctions really accomplish anything? DP: I don't think so. I don't think sanctions have any value beyond window dressing. I don't think agreements have any value. I don't think threats have any value. It boils down to whether we accept the Iranian nuclear program or we destroy it. EMQ: How should Israelis feel about this? DP: I think it's realistic for the Israelis to attack and do real damage. Now, what constitutes success, I'm not exactly sure…. If I were [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, I would say to [U.S. President Barack] Obama, "Why don't you take out the Iranian nukes? Or else we will And we will not do it by trying to fly planes across Turkey and Syria or Jordan or Saudi Arabia. We will do it from submarine-based, tactical nuclear weapons. You don't want that; we don't want that; but that's the way we can do this job for sure. You do it your way so we don't have to escalate to that." That would be a way of applying pressure. There are so many details which I'm not privy to. But that would be my kind of approach if I were the Israelis. EMQ: Do you believe leaders in the West are actually listening to [Iranian leader Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and believing it? DP: There seems to be a growing willingness to accept Iranian nuclear weapons and work the Iranian government into the international system. But whether or not there is also an effort to undermine and even to destroy this, I can't tell you. EMQ: On the issue of Israeli and Palestinian peace, apparently nothing is happening. Why is this true, and has Palestinian determination to destroy Israel diminished? DP: No, it hasn't diminished. It's there, virulent as ever. … EMQ: Do Western leaders, including Americans, really understand the root of Islamic militancy? They keep attempting to separate it from religion. Do they "get it"? DP: Basically, no. I would say there are three interpretations of the current state of affairs. One is what I call the establishment view … People say, "Islam has been hijacked; the problem is terrorism; Islam is a religion of peace." [This is] a denial of the problem. The second is what I call the insurgent view: "Islam itself is the problem. Islam has always been a problem, with jihad, honor killings, and the like. Islam is itself evil and problematic. Muslims are inherently a problem." I think that is too broad-based and wrong. And then there is the middle position, which I subscribe to. It would be summed up by saying, "Radical Islam is the problem, and moderate Islam is the solution." I believe there is a possibility for Islam to evolve in a way that is moderate, modern, and willing to live in harmony with others. I think it is possible for non-Muslims and moderate Muslims to work together to achieve that. Even if you believe the insurgent approach, that Islam itself is evil, there's no policy you can pursue. What can you do if you're president [of the United States] and you believe that? Are you going to throw out freedom of religion? Are you going to exclude Muslims? Are you going to fight wars abroad to promote Christianity? It's not who we are. It requires such fundamental changes that I'd say it's just not possible. So I think it's a dead-end approach. Even if you believe that, and I'm sure some of your listeners do, I'd say you have to join me in seeing Islamism as a political ideology comparable to fascism and Communism because we have tools to defeat that. We have won wars against them: the Second World War and the Cold War. We can do it again. But if we see the problem as religion, we don't have tools; we can't win…. EMQ: If Muslims are concerned about their religion being hijacked by radicals, why the silence from Islam generally about this issue? DP: It's not a complete silence. There have been important exceptions. Perhaps the most dramatic was in mid-2007 when literally millions of people on the streets of Turkish cities said no to Islamic law. And there have been other major demonstrations in Pakistan and elsewhere. But I accept your basic point that, in general, Muslims who don't want the Islamic law imposed on them and don't want the caliphate have been all too quiet. I think that has to do in part with intimidation, in part with lack of organization, with ideology, and with funding. I think there is also a respect that these people [radical Islamists] are really living and applying Islam in its fullness. Just because there isn't enough of a moderate-Muslim push-back today doesn't mean there won't be in the future. I believe that is a goal we should work toward to help moderate Muslims. The U.S. government and other public institutions have been very deficient in this. If you look at television or go to a university, you'll find over and over again it is the Islamists who are in place. We should consciously exclude them and push them to the side, exclude them as we would the KKK or Nation of Islam. Exclude them from the public square and invite the moderates instead. (A response to the notion of a moderate Islam will appear soon in Part II.) Reply to sender . Reply to group . Reply via Web Post . All Messages (1) . Top ^ 2a Fw: An On-Going Debate about Islam: Part II. "Muslim Moderates�€ Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:47 am (PST) . Posted by: "Yaacov Levi" jlevi_us An On-Going Debate about Islam: Part II. "Muslim Moderates” Prof. Paul Eidelberg Middle East expert Daniel Pipes focuses public attention on a distinction between Muslim "moderates" and "extremists." He also distinguishes between “Islamism” and “militant Islam” from Islam per se. Now, let us admit at the outset that not every Muslim is a Jihadist. Indeed, Dr. Pipes' estimates that "only" 10 percent of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims support Jihad: that’s 150,000,000 people, a comforting number. Other experts estimate the number of Muslim supporters of Jihad as more than 20 percent or 300,000,000, roughly the population of the United States. That should make Obama voters sleep well. That 9/11 was gleefully celebrated throughout Islamdom makes the distinction between “moderates” and “extremists” appear academic or “politically correct.” Not that there are no Muslims who sincerely deplore the extremists. Dr. Pipes has brought the names of some moderates to the public’s attention. He succumbs to obscurantism, however, when he admits that “militant Islam, with its Westphobia and goal of world hegemony, dominates Islam in the West [my emphasis] and appears to many to be the only kind of Islam” (Jerusalem Post, September 24, 2003). Yes, that was ten years ago. But why did Pipes, ten years ago, limit “militant Islam” to the West? Doesn’t “militant Islam” dominate the East—the heart of the Islamic world? But now I ask: “Why this attention to Muslim ‘moderates’—a strategically insignificant matter when Muslim extremists dominate Islamdom and when America is at war with the most authentic disciples of Muhammad, who readily defeat 'moderates' in any debate over the meaning of the Quran?" In fact, Pipes himself has indicated that many “moderate” Muslims may be or become quiescent “extremists”! This is more than a semantic issue. Imagine focusing public attention on German “moderates” in the midst of World War II. Wouldn't this be disarming in the democratic world so given to pacifism or milk-and-toast liberalism? Moreover, didn’t all this talk about Muslim moderates mislead the West regarding the “Arab Spring”— which pundits on Sunday applauded as a democratic wave sweeping across the East only to discover on Monday that the “Arab Spring” was a misspelling of “Muslim Brotherhood”? In his book Militant Islam Reaches America, Pipes quotes the following spokesmen: (1) Algerian secularist Said Sadi: “A moderate Islamist is someone who does not have the means of acting ruthlessly to seize power immediately.” (2) Osmane Bencherif, former Algerian ambassador to Washington: “It is misguided policy to distinguish between moderate and extreme Islamists. The goal of all is the same: to construct a pure Islamic state, which is bound to be a theocracy and totalitarian.” (3) Mohammad Mohaddessin, director of international relations for the People’s Mojahadin in Iran, a leading opposition force: “Moderate fundamentalists do not exist…. It’s like talking about a moderate Nazi.” Dr. Pipes is not a milquetoast expert on Islam. But since he sees no way the United States can vigorously counter Islam without ceasing to be a liberal democracy, he obscures the evil nature of Islamic theology by reducing it to a political ideology. Islam is then metamorphosed into “Islamism,” a political ideology comparable to Nazism and Fascism which can the more readily be overcome. Really? Yes, by not giving Islamophiles free space in the public forum or in college class rooms! Unlike Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, Pipes denies a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. He even contends that Islam is compatible with democracy; and he has actually assembled a wealth of information confirming what he denies! However, to minimize the appearance of this clash of civilizations, Pipes states in the preface to the 2002 reprinting of his 1983 book In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, that “militant Islam [is] best understood not as a religion but as a political ideology.” But Islam has always been "political," while Muslims genuflect to Allah, and while their imams purvey a theology diametrically opposed to the theology of the Bible—as lucidly demonstrated by Robert R. Reilly, The Closing of the Muslim Mind. Pipes has succumbed to self-contradiction. As the subtitle of his book Islam and Political Power suggests, and as its content makes obvious: “However much institutions, attitudes, and customs have changed, the Muslim approach to politics derives from the invariant premises of the religion and from fundamental themes established more than a millennium ago” (my emphasis). While I applaud Pipes' courageous exposure of “militant Islam,” I find his denial of a clash of civilizations incomprehensible. Are we to regard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's maledictions "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" as nothing more than political posturing devoid of theological significance? Those two maledictions mean nothing less than "Death to Christianity" and "Death to Judaism." That has always been the goal of Islam and its genocidal theology as evidenced by the Muslim slaughter of more than 200 million non-Muslims since the time of Muhammad. We are at war. We can't win this war merely by winning the hearts and minds of Muslim moderates, however noble that effort may be. “Islamism” has become a euphemism for Islam. This being demonstrably the case, it follows that the conflict is first and foremost a theological conflict, far more awesome and comprehensive than any political ideology. This is precisely what Americans need to be taught (which is why I deem Mr. Reilly's book more important than those written by the most renowned scholars of Islam). As I pointed out a few days after 9/11, the United States cannot win the war thrust upon it by Islam unless Americans identify the enemy. That enemy is not "Islamism" or "political Islam" or "radical Islam," but rather the source of these politically correct euphemisms.